As the New Year begins, today’s challenging business climate is forcing managers to look for simple, yet effective ways to reduce waste and improve productivity to increase profitability and service. Finished goods, production materials and service parts inventory planning are prime candidates. With thousands of items to manage, sometimes at multiple locations, the lack of scientific automated tools has made the job almost impossible leaving companies with too many of the wrong items and not enough of the critical ones. The result is unnecessary inventory expense, while suffering service-limiting stock-outs.Read More
Inventory Planning Blog
The year 2015 brings a solid outlook of improving global economies and growth opportunities. Balancing near term resilience with longer-term objectives is what is needed now. Reducing costs, buying less, increasing productivity, improving cash flow are critical. Keeping these inventory objectives balanced and in perspective, you need an effective way to rationalize and prioritize important business demands. Improve your competitive advantage responsibly and efficiently without incurring major costs should be at the top of your list. Waiting until its too late in your ordering cycles will invite your customers to buy elsewhere. Reducing the wrong items at the wrong time only exacerbates the issue.
If your company tends to reduce items with the highest investment because it creates a larger reduction faster, what it actually does is create potential stock outs, more backorders and increased expedited shipping – and, even more importantly, customer dissatisfaction. We all know that when customers are unhappy they become former customers. Randomly cutting inventory has been proven repeatedly to be the wrong strategy as does overstocking your inventory. As supply chains grow more complex, manual planning using spreadsheets can cause losses. Yes, you can create them to be specific to your business but they are hindering your growth.
Now, more than ever, you have many affordable choices for improving your inventory investment and performance. The Cloud is a viable alternative to investing in On-Premise inventory software. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provides an affordable and flexible way to utilize some of the most powerful inventory planning solutions on the market.
Why should you be interested? SaaS applications provide many benefits you just cannot achieve on-premise. Benefits include:
Lower upfront capital: By going to a SaaS model, you avoid the up-front capital requirements and funding requests, and pay for the software as an on-going expense.
Faster implementation: There is generally less overall set-up time, and in some cases, companies can often leverage the hosted solution’s existing integrations with existing key ERP solutions.
Faster “time-to-value”: Given a more rapid implementation, the time-to-value and positive cash flow returns are more rapid than a traditionally deployed on-premise implementation.
Reduced internal IT resource requirements: No installed application software or hardware to manage over time.
Overcome objections to best-of-breed software: Some companies are finding that they are able to overcome the objections or rules against implementing software that does not come from the company’s ERP provider if they use a SaaS model.
Fit for “on-demand” usage: Users can truly access these solutions when they need them anytime and anywhere 24x7.
Staying current with technology: The software will periodically be automatically upgraded with enhancements to functionality. This should serve to keep users on the current platform, and keep them from falling behind the state of the art over time, sometimes badly so.
So, before you wait another moment, do yourself, your employees, and your customers a favor. Take a serious look at Cloud-based inventory planning and optimization solutions and begin 2015 with a clear path to success.
Up to now, you have relied on spreadsheets and reports and maybe a basic or old business management system. You know mistakes have been made, costly ones that cost you both in cash and in losing customers. There is no IT department in-house to help you determine if a new ERP or Accounting solution is required or an inventory forecasting solution or maybe a more advanced inventory planning and optimization solutions.
So, you sit there and consternate on what to do. What move to make next. Time passes, months go by and still you are in the same position facing the same but growing issues and decisions. Does it really matter that you are maintaining the status quo? The business is doing Ok. It could be doing better but you are so busy there is no time to stop and think.
Well, this lull in decision making is costing you a lot more than you think. Every day that you delay in upgrading your business processes and software solutions costs you, time, money and customers. Today ERP systems like NetSuite, SAP Business One, Sage and a host of others really do make a difference. They help to provide the visibility and data required for quicker, more correct decisions. NetSuite, for example, is a hosted cloud-based solution which makes it affordable and fast to implement requiring no additional hardware and IT support in your company.
Augmenting those systems are the modern advanced inventory planning and optimization solutions. Many are seamlessly integrated into these systems making them a richer, more intelligent system and one that is easier to implement. A few of truly cloud-based built more the ground up taking advantage of modern tools and technologies.
Basically, advanced inventory planning and optimization solutions automate the entire inventory planning process. These systems automatically import data from the master system, generate a forecast, optimize the inventory and create inventory replenishment requirements. Optimization is very important because it balances inventory investment with customer service levels. It makes the hard decisions for you and presents the data in easy to understand formats.
You can save a lot of time and money, reduce overstocks and avoid buying more of the wrong items. It will impact your bottom line cash flow and help increase your competitive advantage. All really good things and all you need to do is unfreeze yourself and make the decision to get your business software up to date. Procrastination is easy telling yourself tomorrow is the day. Doing can be just as easy!
Discover an affordable, seamlessly integrated inventory optimization solution to SAP Business One for small and midsize businesses. A solution that frees up your resources (including cash), reduces losses from obsolescence, and increases service levels. The tools you need to forecast, plan, and optimize inventory, manage your business more efficiently and meet the demands of customers and suppliers are powerful and affordable.
Ease of Use is the Key to Successfully Using Advanced Inventory Planning Solutions
But not for primary forecasting and replenishment planning
Reports and spreadsheets should be used to provide a basic level of information. However, many companies and planners use reports & spreadsheets to completely manage their inventory. To understand the use of these tools on effectiveness and efficiency in inventory planning let’s explore each one independently.
Many ERP and accounting systems have many standard reports that provide useful information. Usually, however, a company will create or build custom reports either in-house or through their 3rd party IT provider (Value Added Reseller – VAR). OK, so this may help because it provides a level of detail that a company or planner feels is necessary to better manage the inventory.
Assume your outside IT firm builds the report. It costs $5,000 to develop. Let’s also assume it is refreshed, updated, each day. Now what? This is static data and yes it is current but it just sits there and provides no efficiency for the planner. The planner must review and decide what the data suggests and what to do with the data.
But the real cost is much higher than the cost to develop the report. Every report, like spreadsheets must be maintained. Much like a car, the purchase price is just the beginning. Hours of a planner’s time are spent pouring over the results to make decisions. You need to count those hours as an associated cost. So, if a planner is paid say $45,000 per year, plus taxes and benefits the total annual cost is over $50,000. If 35% of a planner’s time is spent reviewing just the reports to manage the inventory, then the first year cost is $5,000 + $17,500 = $22,500. That is some expensive report. Are you getting your money’s worth? You still may not be done.
Most people who have reports will export the data from the report into a spreadsheet so they can better manipulate the data. Here is where the fun comes in.
The data from the report is now in the spreadsheet that you spent countless hours creating. The formulas in the cells calculate the numbers you need to evaluate your inventory and plan out the replenishments required.
The dangers inherent in spreadsheets are:
1. Lack of Control
2. Errors from:
The vast majority of companies that own an inventory invariably use spreadsheets to control, manage and report. The types of companies vary from manufacturing, to wholesale distribution, to retail, to aftermarket services, to maintenance and repair operations. And this is true geographically and for companies from the very small to the largest. So why the fascination with spreadsheets?
I most cases, companies already own the software as part of a suite or as already installed on the computer they purchased. They are relatively low cost and have an abundance of features that make them attractive. It is also a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Meaning, people are unaware of the availability of easy to use affordable, automated inventory planning software.
The dangers inherent in spreadsheets are:
Lack of Control
How does optimizing your inventory planning impact your savings?
Advanced inventory planning and optimization software in the cloud not only automates the entire planning process, it dramatically increases the positive cash flow of a company. By smartly reducing inventory investment, reducing stockouts, decreasing expedited shipping costs, and reducing planning time all contribute to more available cash. Add to that increased sales and productivity and the gains will also lead to an improved competitive advantage.
Greener Inventory Planning & Optimization
Complex Environment Creates Inventory Challenges
Inventory management has become more challenging in today’s complex and competitive business environment. Yet many companies are still maintaining inventories manually, and performing complicated computations using spreadsheets and point solutions. Keeping track of reorder points can become an overwhelming task as businesses grow. And standard spreadsheets offer little help in driving down costs and improving revenues because they are time consuming and frequently contain multiple errors. Ray Panko, University of Hawaii compiled data from numerous studies that indicates up to 90% of spreadsheets contain significant errors.
Where is the money hiding?
It is common to find excess and obsolete stock representing thirty-sixty percent of inventory and to find that five-forty percent of the time customer demands cannot be met (based on Valogix’ experience). At worst, companies lose sales; at best, they must ship items at a premium in order to fulfill orders, further driving down the profit margins.
There is good news on the (inventory planning) horizon
Automated planning tools are designed to remove complexity and improve inventory mix. They dramatically reduce the amount of time required to properly plan inventory. By automatically forecasting, replenishing and optimizing, companies can manage inventory more efficiently and meet the demands of customers and suppliers at lower costs for a powerful competitive edge.
Multi-location planning adds complexity.
Service Parts Planning Concepts
Service or spare parts inventory management is a prime candidate for advanced inventory planning, i.e. service management software. With many parts to manage and a lack of power tools, most companies with parts inventories have too many of the wrong parts. The result is unnecessary inventory expense, while still suffering service-limiting stock-outs.
Section 179 at a glance - New for 2013 & 2012
• 2013 and 2012 Deduction Limit = $500,000
This is good on new and used equipment, as well as off-the-shelf software.
• 2013 and 2012 Limit on equipment purchases = $2,000,000
This is the maximum amount that can be spent on equipment before the Section 179 Deduction available to your company begins to be reduced.
• Bonus Depreciation = 50%
This is taken after the $2 million limit in capital equipment purchases is reached. Note: Bonus Depreciation is available for new equipment only. Bonus Depreciation can also be taken by businesses that will have net operating losses in 2013.
The above is an overall, "simplified" view of the Section 179 Deduction for 2013. For more details on limits and qualifying equipment, as well as Section 179 Qualified Financing, please read this entire website carefully.
The Business Problem
Until recently, Small and Mid-size Enterprises (SME) did not have affordable, easy to use software tools to help them effectively manage and balance their inventory investment. Software solutions that forecast, plan and optimize an inventory are found in widespread acceptance in large enterprise companies but these solutions can cost between hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions and are generally not affordable by SMEs.
In most cases, spreadsheets are the common tool in use! They are time-consuming to build and maintain, are usually static data repositories, and according to a study by a major consulting firm over 90% of them contain significant errors.
For organizations that carry an inventory, like manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, that investment is often their largest asset. The cost of carrying excess and obsolete stock, as well as not having sufficient saleable inventory to meet demand is enormously high. It is common to find excess and obsolete stock representing 30% - 60% of inventory and to find that 5% - 40% of the time, customer demand cannot be met. The latter often results in expediting vendor orders at a premium cost that cannot be passed through (based on Valogix’s research and experience).
Procrastination is Costing You More Than You Think
Investing in smart inventory solutions that improve your planning is an important business decision. Sometimes the concept of spending money to save money is very hard to accept. There are no guarantees the investment will pay off, so there is some level of risk involved. But, is it any riskier to do nothing? To maintain the status quo? Yes and even more so as you risk losing customers and possibly your business.